Mouth Cancer, more often referred to as Oral Cancer, is an anomalous growth of malignant cells in any part of the mouth, be it tongue surface, inner cheeks surface, palate, gums or lips. Though the origin of the disease remains a mystery, certain modifiable behaviours like tobacco and alcohol consumption may turn out to be the risk factors. The other prominent contributing factors may include lack of oral hygiene, malnutrition, certain chronic infections, exposure to radiation and misfit dentures. Generally, a physician will conduct a series of physical oral exams biopsies and imaging to determine the medical condition and its severity.
Oral cancer is a growing health hazard in India with 40% of all cancers being mouth cancers. The medical condition is not age specific, as young adults and adolescents are addicted to tobacco intake in the form of smoking and chewable substance. Though the oral cancers are more pronounced among males, females are also vulnerable to it. However, the good news is that mouth cancer treatment in India has come of age and is easily accessible. Healthcare institutes specializing in oncology like Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute are taking a multidisciplinary approach to oral cancer treatment for safe and efficient recovery.
Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute in Delhi NCR, India offers a range of treatment modalities, including surgery, radiotherapy, chemotherapy, chemo-radiotherapy and biological therapy. A combination of two or more modalities is also used for better patient outcomes. Typically, surgery is conducted to get rid of the cancer in the mouth or neck and reconstruct the face. Before initiating curative treatment, we address oral health issues to steer clear of post-therapeutic complications. RGCIRC hospital also focus on rehabilitation in the post-treatment scenario to reduce the recurrence.
Symptoms of oral cancer take time to surface. However, if any of the below-mentioned symptoms persist for over two weeks, a visit to the physician is recommended.
1. Red or white patches inside your mouth
2. Mixed white and red patches
3. Sores on tongue
4. Canker sores
Remember, early detection will increase chances of complete and safe recovery. Read More
Oral cancer is segregated into four categories based on the size and spread of a malignant tumour.
Stage 1: Herein, the tumour is not biggest than 2 centimetres. Its spread is localized, as it is yet to infiltrate lymph nodes.
Stage 2: The tumour gains size and may grow up to 4 centimetres. As lymph nodes are not infected as yet, the impact is restricted to where it originated.
Stage 3: The stage presents two different scenarios. One, the tumor size goes beyond 4 centimetres and has infected a single lymph node on the side where it originated. Two, the lymph node contains tumor measuring one-inch or less.
Stage 4(A) : The scenarios are diversified in the final stage of oral cancer. The tumor has intruded into nearby tissues but the surrounding lymph nodes are yet to be infected. Lymph nodes on both sides of the neck have developed the tumor.
Stage 4(B) & (C) : The size of the tumor has increased uncontrollably and branched out to one or several lymph nodes on the side where it began.Distant sites are infected with a malignant tumor.
Surgery: It is done to remove cancerous tumours and lymph nodes from the mouth and neck areas.
Radiation therapy is another treatment option, which involves focusing high radiation beams on the tumour – from “one to five days up to eight weeks.”
Chemotherapy is done with drugs for killing cancer cells. These medications are given either intravenously or orally.
Targeted therapy drugs are intended to bind with specific cancer cells or proteins for interfering with cell growth.
This is a type of oral cancer that develops in the squamous cells of the tongue. The thin and flat cells are found on the surface of the skin and other organs, including the tongue. Squamous cells carcinoma of the tongue can present itself either on the front part that you can stick out and see, or the base, which is the rear part extending down the throat.
This cancer can develop in the absence of risk factors and is seen more commonly in men and people aged 40 and above. Women and the younger age groups are at lower risk but susceptible. Smoking and drinking can increase the risk. Smokers are at five times higher risk than non-smokers. The risk increases in the presence of HPV 16 and HPV 18.
Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute offers palliative and curative tongue cancer treatment.
The oral tongue cancer can often be present in the form of a lump on the side of the tongue touching the teeth. It could look like a greyish-pink to a red ulcer that bleeds when touched or bitten.
The cancer of the base of the tongue, generally, cannot be detected in the initial stages, thus delaying the treatment of mouth cancer. As it grows larger, it causes pain and discomfort in the throat.
The symptoms to look out for include difficulty in swallowing, fullness or a sensation of a lump in the throat, change of voice and earache.
Tongue cancer treatment includes surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy and varies by its type and spread.
Radiation therapy is given to the patients to stem the growth of the tumours and gradually shrink and get rid of them.
Chemotherapy, combined with radiotherapy, can be an alternative to surgery. After surgery, it is used to reduce the risk of a relapse. It is also used to slow down the growth of the tumour.
Due to evolved screening and treatment modalities, the success rate of advance mouth cancer treatment has gone up significantly. The average one year survival rate is 81%, regardless of the stage at which it is detected. The average survival for 5 years currently stands at 56 percent, while the rate for a decade is 41%.
The recovery from oral cancer treatment varies post-surgery. Some post-surgical symptoms include swelling and pain; however, these are not considered as long-term difficulties.
Sometimes the removal of large tumours also affects your ability to talk, swallow or chew after surgery. So, you need reconstructive surgery for rebuilding your bones, as well as tissues, in the mouth after surgery.
While the treatment options for cancer remove the tumours but they do have certain side-effects. And, the person has to be patient to recover from oral cancer treatment with time.
Some other tests, besides physical examination, include: